The piriformis is a muscle located deep in the hip that runs in close proximity to the sciatic nerve. When the piriformis muscle becomes tight and/or inflamed, it can cause irritation of the sciatic nerve. This irritation leads to sciatica-like pain, tingling, and numbness that runs from the lower back to the rear and sometimes down the leg and into the foot.
Exercise and Stretches for Sciatica:
• Reclining Pigeon Pose
• Seated Pigeon in Your Chair
• Forward Pigeon Pose
• Knee to Opposite Shoulder
• Sitting Spinal Stretch
• Hamstring Stretch
Reclining Pigeon Pose
Reclined Pigeon pose is a moderately gentle supine hip opener and lower body stretches nearly linked to pigeon pose.
From a supine position, both legs bend. The right ankle passes the left thigh nearby to the knee. The right-hand threads between the legs, the left around the outside, and the hands then hold behind the left thigh or shin. The head and shoulders release into the ground, drawing the knees closer to the body. Hold it there for 20- 30 seconds. Repeat the same stretch on the other side & 3 times each side.
Seated Pigeon in Your Chair
The seated pigeon is a wonderful pose for tight hips. It can be done everywhere including an office desk. If you have problems with your knees and can’t bring your ankle all the way onto the opposite thigh. When you go into the forward bend and allow the head to hang like a ripe fruit, you will also get a bit of a back stretch too. Hold it there for 20- 30 seconds. Repeat the same stretch on the other side & 3 times each side. This helps stretch the little piriformis muscle, that sometimes becomes inflamed and presses against the sciatic nerve, causing pain.
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Forward Pigeon Pose
Pick up your right leg and move it forward on the ground in front of the body. Your lower leg should be on the ground, horizontal to the body. Your right foot should be in front of the right knee while the right knee stays to the right.
Stretch the left leg out all the way behind you on the floor, including the top of the foot on the ground and toes pointing back. Hold it there for 20-30 seconds. Repeat the same stretch on the other side & 3 times each side.
Knee to Opposite Shoulder
Lie on your back with legs extended and your feet flexed upward.
Bend your right leg and hold your hands around the knee.
Gently pull your right leg across your body toward your left shoulder.
Hold it there for 20- 30 seconds. Repeat the same stretch on the other side & 3 times each side.
Sitting Spinal Stretch
Place your left hand on the right knee. Take a deep breath and slowly twist your body on the right side. You can additionally place your right hand on the floor near your right hip. Stretch upward by pressing your hand against the floor. Try to hold your back as straight as possible. Inhale and come back to your centre position. Hold it there for 20-30 seconds. Repeat the same stretch on the other side & 3 times each side.
Lie on your back with one leg bent and one straight.
Fold a belt or towel around the foot of the straight leg. Use your arms to pull the leg up until a stretch is felt behind the knee – keeping the leg straight. This should be firm, but not painful.
Once the stretch has started to relax in this position, gently rotate the leg in- you will feel an increased stretch on the inside of the knee. Hold it there for 20-30 seconds. Repeat the same stretch on the other side & 3 times each side.